Thursday, February 6, 2014
We publish poetry that may broadly be understood as engaging with a more-than-human context, in a variety of poetic forms, articles on the poetics and intent of ecopoetry, exploring ways in which poetry not only responds to and affects its world, but also ways in which poetic practice can model ecological systems and concerns, the ways in which poems themselves are material, breathy things in a world of animate matter, and reviews of collections of poetry that understand themselves or could be understood as ecopoetry.Plumwood Mountain is part of a cultural reshaping toward what Val Plumwood called an ‘environmental culture’.
Read the previous post regarding my current collaborative performance project.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Hi there, if you hadn't already got the news I'm hanging around over at the Artist as Family blog for the next year while we conduct research for a new book called Free Food. In this book we aim to put together all of our experiments in foraging, hunting, gifting and swapping, low-carbon travelling, poaching, free-loading and generally living a very small ecological footprint in this very big country.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Packing up the house today. About to leave on a year's adventure. Dipping into old notebooks. Stopping on this page. From fifteen years ago. A hill in Musk, close to here: Contour ploughing.
A black shouldered kite
follows my spine –
scribed by a grader,
filled with coarse rock
pursues the depression
contours of my
with sour grasses
once covered in clover
like my belly now
dark and wet
protected from the sun's west
The drawing and poem were very simply imagined sometime in my late twenties (the notebook entry is undated). A vineyard is now situated on this hill, but it has never been ploughed on contour to create swales for passive water harvesting.
Well before I was ready to know about P A Yeomans, permaculture, ploughs and poetics or my own political imperative of bringing back the digging stick, I was intuitively writing and drawing up the logic of rehydrating land through swales – spoon drains that follow contours and hold up rain water. All these years later Ian Milliss and Lucas Ihlein are focussing on these very relationships in a show called The Yeomans Project. They have asked Milkwood Permaculture, Taranaki Farm, (f)route, Diego Bonetto and us, Artist as Family, along for the ride. And we will be riding over 1000 kms to witness this project, leaving Friday.
During my doctoral research I got to know William Buckley pretty well. As I was scouring material on him a friend, Maya Ward, recommended I read Strandloper, which is an excellent novel based on his life. I have called Buckley the first Australian permaculturalist (cheekily, in front of David Holmgren). Last year Southerly published my Portrait of the escaped convict who slowly nativised into a Wathaurong man over 32 years before Batman and co discovered him. The poem features in my thesis alongside this photograph painted by an unknown artist and undated. The painting hangs in the State Library of Victoria.
Today I was rifling through some images and I came across this photograph taken of me reading at the Victorian Writers' Centre (next door to the SLV) in 2011. I'm standing in front of my poem Step by step, which also features in my thesis.
An uncanny resemblance between permaculture poets? Buckley is important to me because he is a rare European who listened to and learnt from Indigenous land spirit and intelligence.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
There has been a resurgence of thought about Aboriginal seasonality in these parts. My friend Tanya Loos recently launched in Daylesford her book Six Seasons in the Foothill Forests, which includes a dust jacket that folds out into this very special calendar:
I first met Ros a little while back at Jude Perry and Uncle Brien's Bunjil Park where we both took a traditional basket weaving workshop. Today Uncle Brien's son Rick Nelson sang Welcome to Country accompanied by Ron Murray on didgeridoo.
Their short but powerful welcome led us into a diverse environment with diverse weather, bordering on six seasons in one afternoon.
Through multiple instruments and from several amplification points, sound, song and spoken work emerged. People moved through Jaara country, the work physically formed in us. Local birds and falling rain intervened knowingly.
The sound in the bush was restorative and nurturing. It enabled reflection and understanding. It didn't shy away from or disappear colonisation,
but more so provided a place for maturity. After the performance one friend commented that she wanted to get out of doors more often and listen more intently. I agreed and replied how I'm looking forward to living outside for at least the next year.
Congratulations Ros and her fellow performers: Rick Nelson, Ron Murray, Sarah James, Mary Doumany, Le Tuan Hung and Wang Zheng Ting.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Publishers who understand ecological crises, monetary damage, and the imperatives of radical change. Publishers open to new models for human societies, who understand multiform and experimental texts, who get biodiversity and the relationships between food, energy and ecology. Publishers who are giving up on perpetuating anthropocentric pollution ideology and who promote the composting of hierarchical and unjust social orders. Publishers who value the reclaiming of low-carbon, regenerative technologies, thought and deeds and believe they can contribute to a future of aggregating uncertainty and struggle but nonetheless joy, resilience and intelligence.
If you know of any publisher that fits such a description please let me know.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
For a while now I've wanted to make a boomerang. A recent trip to Gariwerd became the perfect time to do it. I took a few basic tools with me and late one afternoon I set out from our camp to find an appropriate wattle limb.
Near to where Zeph, Gabe and I were camping I found a lightwood wattle (Acacia implexa) that had blown over in a storm. It was still quite green and I found a suitable part to cut out.
I then got to work with my small hatchet cutting a basic form,
before beginning work on shaving down the sides. Traditionally, a stone head axe of a similar size would have been used to shape such tools.
I then used the small saw to do some more basic shaping,
returning to more shaving until most of the wood was removed. A boomerang is the precursor to an airplane's wing and precedes this technology by about forty thousand years. It has a flat under side and a curved up side.
I then used my pocket knife to finely finish the boomerang. It flew well, but didn't return. Someone at the camp joked, if it doesn't return it is not a boomerang, it's just a stick. I needed some better advice than this so we headed off to the Brambuk Cultural Centre again.
We admired the traditional boomerangs in the Brambuk collection,
and booked in to the boomerang throwing workshop with Jeremy. He kindly gave some great tips on getting my next boomerang to return. He suggested that the shape of mine was generally used for ceremonies. Next time I will try to find an acacia root with a greater natural curve.
On no other continent did people develop a returning arrow. This ingenious tool really indicates an incredible intelligence. I have often heard it said that Aboriginal people purposely didn't develop their technology beyond their edible and ceremonial needs. This represents a mature sensibility to land and resources that the west (and its anxiety for innovation) could really refer to now.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Zeph and I joined the Victorian home educators camp at Halls Gap in the Grampians this week. We came with a community friend Gabe and the two boys joined over 100 kids from all over the state (and further afield). For five days we experienced unpredictable weather, night games, wrestling, abseiling, rock climbing, new friend making, swimming, tiredness, ball games, bike-riding, sunburn, boomerang throwing, cuts and bruises and some autonomous food.
|Blow fly grass (Briza maxima) also known as quaking grass|
|Three-cornered garlic (Allium triquetrum)|
|Milkmaids (Burchardia umbellate)|
|Deer (Cervidae family) and Kangaroo (Macropod, meaning 'large foot')|
|Round-leaf Mint (Prostanthera rotundifolia), Strawberry Gum (Eucalyptus olida), Wattleseed (Acacia sp) Lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora)|
|Mat-rush (Lomandra longifolia) a common source of starchy food|
|Honey myrtle (Melaleuca sp.)|
|Grass tree (Xanthorrhoea sp.)|
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
There is a colourful stoush going on at Overland about:
More virulent than MODERNISM
More critical than POST–MODERNISM
Read the full story inside!
|Home, Stewart. Plagiarism: Art as Commodity and Strategies for its Negation, London: Aporia Press, 1988.|
|Tipping, Richard & Mansell, Chris. Lessons for Plagairists (with a Special Proem by Bill Posters, Complete with Precepts and a Handy Compendium of Instructions), Sydney: Well Sprung Productions, 2013.|
And more grist for the mill at Notes from the Sinister Quarter.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Friday, September 13, 2013
Monday, August 5, 2013
Taking our eleven year old, Zephyr, out of school has been a long-awaited blessing and I'm slowly developing a teaching method which is increasingly simple, involving only walking and being open. Learning can't be quantified when we happen across a jelly fungus called Yellow Brain (Tremella mesenterica). An old and highly sophisticated organism that attaches itself to its food source, this saprotrophic fungus, like most fungi, help decompose dead matter and turn it into soil. This understanding of life, this directness of contact with earthly processes, makes our walks about relationships.
Today we walked across the town's lake bridge and noticed the degrading pebble-mix concrete barrier and the lichen covered cherry plum and the grey melancholy of deep winter. Our blood and woolen warm engagement with these cold elements and our closeness together as father and son brought a quietness to us both. A simple joy that encouraged openness.
In the forest on the edge of town we noted that the numerous little mounds of rabbit droppings are partnered with an ancient moss (Polytricum sp.) and when we later bumped into a friend on his mountain bike traversing another part of the town's edge we learned that it is the buck rabbit that makes these little mounds as territorial markers, as nitrogenous cairns, that the spores of such moss so obviously gravitate to in order to make an easier life.
As we walked and talked of such connectivity, we discussed the many different type of relationships that exist in life – the mutualistic, the parasitical, predator-prey, the advantagious and the loving. None of which are exclusively human, as Zero, our kin dog Jack Russell likes to remind us in his own particular creaturely way, and who nearly always joins us on our homeschool adventures, using senses we've long lost but surely need to rescue.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Numerous birds come into our garden and share the bounties there. Some are rare and singular, others in great numbers come daily. Occassionally one or more of these abundant species, namely the seed loving fruitarians, occassionally become ecological food for us. We use non-industrial tools to hunt them, which usually means we shoot them with our home-made bows.
As locavores we try to eat outside of the industrial food system because of the blind violence that can be attributed to that food supply. We know that autonomous birds are regularly killed and their lives wasted for the farming of vegan, vegetarian and omnivore fruits, nuts, pulses and grains. And, unlike modern agriculture, we don't believe in 'pest' species. Every organism that comes into the garden is an ecological player – the greater diveristy there is, the healthier we all are. This is permaculture logic, which is the opposite thinking to monological agriculture that attempts to scale up single species production in order to make food a predictable commodity.
We contend that if we can see our food – grow, forage and hunt for it – we have a better chance of knowing what species are doing well and thus are fair game. Industrial food, contiguous with growth capitalism, must waste resources in order to capitalise significantly on just one kind. We see this in industrial fishing where millions of tons of fish are killed in drag nets and routinely wasted because the market doesn't see them as desirable.
We argue that small-scale, simple tools, non-transported resources and accountable killing all combine to constitute a future model of food and culture sustainability, and we believe this theory, which we actively practice, will help us adapt to changes in climate, economics and fossil resources while also mitigate the adverse effects industrial resources cause to these things. This is essentially observing indigenous peoples intelligence worldwide and composting the myth that super-scaled, highly chemicalised transported agriculture will feed the world. This is a colossal myth of our time.
A counter argument to ours that always comes up goes something like this: If we all hunt and forage then there will be a quick depletion of these species. My response to that is: by forest gardening for most of our food and sourcing some from small nearby organic polyfarms, then supplementary foods can be gleaned, hunted and foraged for without significant depletion. We need to eat around 90% less meat and start getting localised animal proteins from many nearby places including insects. Additionally, if we stopped driving trucks and cars we would see a great decline in wasted mammal life on roadsides, and once we lessen the burden on the environment that superfarms have, then we will see greater abundance of autonomous species more broadly still. Industrialism takes so much to make so little.
We are arguing for greater accountability in resource consumption and this will help produce a leaner and cleaner culture.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Fifteen of us walked out from the Daylesford Neighbourhood Centre today for one of my four hour foraging workshops, bracing winter's cold ground joy.
|Foraging workshop. Photo: Dave Cauldwell|
We came across about thirty to forty autonomous foods including mallow (Malva) and wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum).
|Mallow (left), wild radish (right). Photo: Dave Cauldwell.|
The young leaves of acanthus (Acantha) can be eaten. The flowers and fruits (cheeses) can be cooked as a vegetable.
|Acanthus. Photo: Dave Cauldwell.|
Buckshorn plantain (Plantago coronopus) can be eaten raw in salads or cooked.
|Buckshorn plantain. Photo: Dave Cauldwell.|
Spear thistle root (Cirsium vulgare) is my favourite vegetable at the moment. Washing the clay from one in Lake Daylesford made a perfect end to the walk.
|Washing spear thistle root in Lake Daylesford. Photo: Dave Cauldwell.|
Especially after chopping up the root, giving it a splash with local (Captain's Creek) red wine vinegar and serving it out to the lovely crew who came on the walk today.
|Patrick Jones' foraging workshop, Lake Daylesford. Photo: Dave Cauldwell.|
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Almost two years ago Zeph and I went out with a bow-making friend, Peter Yencken, in search of suitable bow timber. Peter had previously taught me how to make a bow at one of his workshops.
Not far out of town we discovered a small copse of Osage orange (Maclura pomifera). This small North American tree is excellent for making bows, as practiced by indigenous peoples of that country.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Appropriate technology is an ideological movement that encompasses technological choice and application that is 'small-scale, decentralized, labor-intensive, energy-efficient, environmentally sound, and locally controlled'. I'm not so sure about the desirability of labour intensity in this otherwise sensible list, that's why I forage, you harvest food that you haven't sown. My new root tool that I bought from a foraging, hunting, gardening, cooking shop in nearby Trentham, will enable us to more easily forage for autonomous root vegetables and therefore for non-monetised complex starches.